If you want to lose weight, start by feeding your brain. Achieving high energy, mental alertness and an optimistic outlook is the best way to gain control over your eating. A diet that makes you feel naturally high also raises your fat-burning metabolism and contributes to high self-esteem as you begin to feel and eat better.
This is the advice from nutrition experts Hyla Cass, M.D., and Patrick Holford, coauthors of the book Natural Highs: Supplements, Nutrition and Mind/Body Techniques To Help You Feel Good All the Time (Penguin Putnam). In it, they present the perfect brain-food diet based on extensive research in the areas of nutrition, psychology and neuroscience.
Statistics show that most of us are exhausted, stressed and depressed. To combat this, we turn to a variety of boosters to get us through the day (and night). We gobble a muffin with coffee in the morning to get a rush, sip a soda or have a cookie to overcome the afternoon slump and wind down at night with a cocktail. This often adds up to excess calories, weight gain and feelings of hopelessness.
What we are unknowingly doing, say Cass and Holford, is attempting to regulate our moods and energy with substances that work only in the short term -- but lead to caffeine lag, blood sugar drops, tiredness and an unhealthy cycle of bad foods.
Here is a highly effective weight-loss diet the experts recommend:
Eat a serving of high-quality protein three times a day
Higher quality protein is better absorbed and more efficiently utilized, so you will need to eat less of it. Adequate protein promotes good moods. However, too much protein encourages fat storage, so use moderation. Good examples of high-quality protein foods are seafood, poultry, lean red meat, soy, low-fat yogurt, rice with beans and rice with lentils.
Eat cold-water fish three times a week
This is one of the best sources of omega-3, an essential fatty acid crucial to optimal brain function. Omega-3s are found in salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and cod.
Eat two eggs a week, or sprinkle lecithin granules on your cereal, salads or vegetables
These are the best sources of phospholipids, which help you metabolize fat and enhance your mood and mental performance.
Eat one serving of low-Glycemic Index (low-GI) complex carbohydrates at every meal
Complex carbohydrates are long chains of sugar molecules strung together that are digested slowly and help prevent fluctuations in blood sugar levels that can cause depression as well as cravings for sugar and alcohol. Complex carbohydrates also help raise serotonin levels, which calm you down and lift your mood. Good examples of low-GI foods are whole grains, bran, beans, apples, cherries, dried apricots, plums and pears.
Eat one or two servings of antioxidant fruits and vegetables with every meal
These replenish the body and brain with oxygen, giving you energy and combating illness. Antioxidant-rich foods include prunes, berries, kale, spinach, broccoli and alfalfa sprouts.
Have a heaping tablespoon of ground seeds a day
These provide you with the needed energy and essential fat to keep your body and brain churning out maximum energy. In a blender or coffee grinder, grind half flaxseeds and half sesame, sunflower, hemp and pumpkin seeds. Keep in a sealed glass jar in refrigerator and add to your salads, sprinkle over vegetables or cereal, or have in a shake.